You had to watch your mum Trudie die - how did that change you?
Wow, Mum dying changed my whole life. To be honest, just her diagnosis with Huntington’s disease change my whole life. I went from being a “normal” girl with the usual problems – school, friends, boys – then suddenly all those things didn’t really matter any more. All that mattered was being there for Mum, helping her cope, trying to do my best to be there for her while Huntington’s tore her apart. It was devastating and incredibly difficult but it certainly did put life into perspective. It made me realize what’s really important and what’s, well, not so much.
Why did you want to find your birth family? Was it to because you wanted to belong again, or...?
I wanted to find my birth family because (as you may have noticed) I’m someone who can’t deal with what-ifs! I just needed to fill in the blanks – discover who they were, and what they were like. It was like a part of my history was missing and I needed to paint it in before I could move on. I knew they’d never replace the relationship I had with my mum – nothing could – but that didn’t mean I couldn’t potentially have my own new relationships with them too. Or not as the case may be. I’d just rather know, than wonder.
What were you thinking and feeling when you first met your biological family?
It blew me away. To think that they’d been out there all this time, yet they were strangers to me. It was exciting and terrifying and exhilarating all at once.
It’s no overstatement to say that I’d be lost without him. He’s just amazing. I don’t know how he puts up with me and this rollercoaster I’ve dragged him on – but I’m really glad he does. He’s one in a million.
Where do you go from here? What can you see in your future?
The future is a blank for me – not in the way it used to be: a blank filled with questions and anxieties; but a blank filled with endless possibilities. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I can’t wait to find out!
Do you have any regrets? If you could go back in time to change anything, would you?
Yes. I wouldn’t have shut myself away from my friends and from Andy when Mum got ill. That was a mistake. Yes, it was difficult to talk to people who didn’t understand what I was going through, but that would’ve changed if I’d taken the time to explain it all to them. I thought I could handle it all by myself, but that’s never really the answer.
Do you have any advice for people going through what you've been through? Whether that is finding out you're not biologically related to your family, or seeing a loved one with a disease such as Huntington's?
Don’t go it alone. I made that mistake, and I really regret it. It’s so important to talk to people about what you’re going through. I shut Andy out when it was me, but he would have been there for me and helped me through it, and I needed that. There are loads of people out there to support people like me affected by Huntington’s disease – the HAD, the HDSA and HDYA and the newly formed Huntington’s Disease Youth Organisation run for young people by young people who really understand and can really help.
Finally, can you describe yourself in one sentence?
To quote Alice In Wonderland: I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it! I try to do the right thing, but sometimes it’s hard to know what that is.
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Thanks Katie! And Rosie! It's been great having you both here!
Now, if you haven't read Someone Else's Life I really recommend it! Check out Katie's blog: here.